View from a Nearly Empty Nest

I hate to say it, but the facts are stark and irrefutable: we have too many animals.

Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if they were self-sufficient dear little things but they all have major baggage which they unpack and throw about the room on a daily basis. The cats are, well, cats. Their love is contingent on whether or not you gave them “the wet stuff” that night for dinner or let them outside to sun on the deck (they are indoor cats) or in some way did something for them. And it’s a pretty paltry sort of love, I have to say, when it does come. Cats aren’t clingy and for that I’m grateful. But they’re not particularly affectionate either (at least ours aren’t) and it makes you wonder why you pay all the vet bills and Meow Mix and God knows, tons of kitty litter. Really doesn’t seem to be the kind of payback that you’d expect for all the effort and money. Having said that, we are, of course, attached to the aloof little beasties, but ideal pets I cannot say they are.

So the cats, not so much. And les chiens? Well, Buddy is beautiful but stupid which doesn’t matter, really, because he’s also desperately sweet. But he has none of the beneficial dog traits you use to reason why you have a dog for all the trouble. He doesn’t greet you when you come home (he doesn’t even lift his head off the couch pillow), he doesn’t sleep with you at night, he sometimes forgets that it’s the outdoors where he’s supposed to crap (WTH…??) and he will eat cat litter (and all that that entails) if there is any way possible. Euweeeu.

Then there is Lucy the Puppy. Also known as Lucy the Terrible and Lucy the All-Powerful who is, on the other hand, really, really smart. Like Lex Luther smart or some other mad, evil genius. Lucy, who is a Westie, tortures the poor cats—fearlessly and tenaciously attempting to rid the household of what she considers Grade A vermin. She destroys everything she comes into contact with—newspapers, slippers, measuring cups, dog and cat toys, eye glasses—in seconds and irrevocably. She does, on the other hand, go totally berserk with happiness when she sees you after any kind of separation (Buddy, take notes.) She considers it part of her job to “pre-rinse” (with her tongue) the dirty dishes in the dishwasher, and she informs all chipmunks, squirrels, mice, birds, bunnies and even a good sized coyote to stay clear of her yard. (Come to think of it, she’s also had words with the mailman.)

I confess I often wish I didn’t have quite so many lovies. All the water bowl filling, litter box changing, dog leashes, unique needs, prickly personalities, special diets, accidents, varying bed times and crate times—is wearing me out. My husband is quick to remind me that I was the one who got us into this fix (three of the four were foundlings) with all their diverse and discordant personalities.

On top of that, they all somewhat hate each other, with the exception of Lucy who’d like to do her rat-terrier thing on the cats’ necks but who loves Buddy in a very scary, stalking kind of way that has the poor dog hiding under sofas and behind chairs when she’s on the loose.

While I admit I have told my husband that we will never replace a single one of these beloved creatures when the time comes for us to forge on alone, I have to say I’m rethinking that promise. It’s not that any of the little darlings is any more perfect. God knows, if anything, the older they get, (like people) the more entrenched their personalities and habits become. I’m not sure but it’s possible my change of heart may have something to do with the sound of my only child shuffling through his college acceptances for next fall.

Maybe a Cockatiel.

7 thoughts on “View from a Nearly Empty Nest

  1. I SO understand this! We have three dogs and two cats. At one point it was five dogs and three cats, many years ago, before we instituted the “one pet per person” rule. Granted, there are only three of us, but the two cats are strays who chose to live in our carport, demanding food (which we give them) each and every time we exit the house. Our beasties are:
    Hurley Monroe – the 95 lb. golden retriever who thinks she’s my husband’s lap dog; Sweetie (that’s “Queen Sweetie” to you peasants), an 8 lb. chihuahua; and Evelyn May, a 15 lb. chorkie (chihuahua yorkie mix, the result of a love connection between Sweetie and a Yorkshire Terrier that lived with us briefly, but then went to another family where he is MUCH happier). Hurley sheds like crazy and we are constantly besieged by a herd of tumbling tumbleweeds across our hardwood floors. Sweetie hates the grass when it gets too long (touching her butt), so she lets my husband know it needs to be cut by pooping on the sidewalk just outside the doggie door. And Evelyn insists on sleeping with us – when we have the audacity to shut our bedroom door, she chews on the baseboard right outside to let us know she’s not happy.
    Oh, yeah – I understand, but I can’t imagine our lives without them. We do love the little beasties so.

  2. With all three children now grown and gone, my husband and I find ourselves more and more entranced and enthralled by the antics of our two big old mutts. Sometimes the cost, the bother, the midnight whining to go out and the daily walking requirements make us wonder what on earth we were thinking…..but mostly, we’re just so happy to have somebody to fuss over!

  3. This is so sweet, and the ending is so moving given the context that you wrote this in. I howled with laughter at your descriptions of Lucy!

  4. I meant to comment to this when I first read it, but got distracted. We haven’t had a pet since our 17 year old beagle passed some time ago, and I miss having one. However, since we’re still overseas for long periods it’s really just not possible with quarantine periods, long plane rides, etc.

    Rascal’ last few years were not great. She was half blind and arthritic to the point that she had to lifted to her favorite spot on our old sofa. We discussed euthanizing her several times, but she almost seemed to sense that somehow and would perk up for several days. When the day finally came, it was of her own choosing, and not ours.

    The UPS man, or more specifically, the UPS truck was her lifelong nemesis. For some reason, she hated it with a passion, and would go ballistic when she heard it pass on the street outside. One day, our son was opening the door to go out to the mailbox, just as the UPS trucked passed. Before anyone even thought to stop her, old, arthritic Rascal jumped off the sofa like a puppy and was out the door, racing across the lawn with all the speed of your long lost youth. She died with her teeth clamped firmly on the rear wheel of the UPS truck. Caught the bastard at last! If there is a doggie Valhalla, I suspect she’s parading around with her chest puffed out, proclaiming herself to be Rascal – Captor of the Brown Monster.

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